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Inhaler IQ

Asthma is the leading chronic disease among children, affecting 1 in every ten students. While inhalers can be a powerful tool in managing asthma, school nurses need to understand how to use, store, and administer inhalers correctly to help ensure students remain healthy and safe. In this blog post, we will discuss inhaler IQ—everything you need to know as a school nurse about the proper use, storage, and administration of inhalers.

 Inhaler Types

Understanding the different types of asthma inhalers will help school nurses assist students in using them correctly and efficiently, ensuring their asthma is effectively managed. The most common types include metered-dose inhalers (MDIs), dry powder inhalers (DPIs), and nebulizers.

  • MDIs are the most frequently used inhalers and work by delivering medication through a propellant. Typically, they consist of a metal canister attached to a mouthpiece or spacer.
  • DPIs, on the other hand, provide medication in powder form and don't require a propellant. They are generally breath-activated, meaning the student must inhale deeply to release the medication.
  • Nebulizers are another option, particularly for young children or those with difficulty using MDIs or DPIs. They transform liquid medication into a fine mist inhaled through a mask or mouthpiece.


Inhaler Use

Proper asthma inhaler use is of utmost importance in ensuring the well-being and health of students with asthma. When used correctly, inhalers can effectively manage asthma symptoms and prevent potentially life-threatening asthma attacks. However, if inhalers are not used properly, students may not receive the full dose of medication they need, which can lead to ineffective treatment and increased risk of asthma exacerbations. Proper inhaler use can also prevent medication wastage and reduce unnecessary costs for parents. Here are some essential tips to help you ensure proper inhaler use:

  1. Demonstrate and practice inhaler technique: Take the time to show students how to use their inhalers correctly. Teach them to take slow, deep breaths and hold the medication in their lungs for a few seconds. Encourage them to practice under your supervision to ensure they understand and can perform the correct technique.


  1. Regularly review inhaler use: Schedule regular check-ins with students who use inhalers to assess their technique. Observe their inhaler use and provide feedback or guidance as needed. This will help reinforce proper technique and address any issues that may arise.


  1. Address common mistakes: Many students may make common mistakes when using their inhalers, such as sitting down, not shaking or priming the inhaler before use, or not exhaling fully before inhaling. Take the time to address these mistakes and correct them to ensure students get the full medication dose.


  1. Reinforce the importance of spacers: Discuss how they help deliver the medication to the lungs instead of getting stuck in the mouth.


  1. Encourage open communication: Create a safe and open environment where students feel comfortable discussing their asthma symptoms and inhaler use. Encourage them to ask questions or voice any concerns they may have. This will help ensure they use their inhalers correctly and get the support they need.


Inhaler Storage

It's important to store asthma inhalers properly to maximize their effectiveness and longevity. Here are some essential storage tips for school nurses to keep in mind:

  1. Store inhalers at room temperature: Extreme temperatures can affect the medication's potency. Keep them away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and cold environments.
  1. Avoid moisture: Moisture can cause the medication to break down. Keep inhalers in a dry place and avoid storing them near any water sources.
  1. Check expiration dates: Expired medication may be less effective in managing asthma symptoms.
  1. Keep inhalers accessible: All 50 states have passed laws permitting students to self-carry their asthma medication while at school. Ensure students can easily access them when needed and if a student is unable to self-carry, storage should be in a designated and easily reachable place.
  1. Check your state’s legislation and guidelines for stocking albuterol in your school.


By shoring up on your inhaler IQ and knowing how to use, store, and administer inhalers correctly, you can better manage asthma in schools and improve the quality of life for students affected by this chronic disease. Shop all School Nurse Asthma Supplies HERE.

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